February 2015

February 2015

I Don’t Wanna Grow Up
By: Brandy Wingate Voss

Sigh.  This column is hard for me to write, as it will be the last time that I serve as editor of the e-News.  The fact is, I’m “all growed up.”  I age out of the Texas Young Lawyers Association this summer.  I cannot thank my predecessor on the board—Rebecca Vela—enough for recommending that I run for the TYLA board.   It has been an amazing experience.

Turning 38 years old this year was not as hard as I thought it would be.  I still feel pretty young, and I stay active.  Having to give up my participation on the Texas Young Lawyers Association Board of Directors is definitely the worst part.

So I started thinking about the lessons I’ve learned as a young lawyer, and what words of wisdom I could pass along to those that follow.  Here are a couple of tips that I hope can benefit someone out there.

     1.  Don’t be “that lawyer.”

     We all hear the tales of the mean, nasty partner at the big firm who barks at everyone who walks through the door, who screams and curses, and who can never be pleased.  I won’t name any names, but I encountered such an individual early in my practice.  

Unfortunately, the stress of practicing law generates many lawyers who carry these same traits. I soon realized that not only did I have to deal with these people within my firm, but as my opposing counsel.  It’s easy to get sucked into their evil vortex.  Don’t let that happen.

A friend of mine suggested a strategy for dealing with these folks that has worked well for me.  Before I have an encounter with a person I know to be difficult, I imagine them doing something ridiculously hilarious. 

For example, I have had cases against a lawyer who (I believe) lives to mock me in open court.  Before a hearing, I imagine that she has a huge booger hanging out of her nose.  Sometimes, I imagine her with donkey ears and a donkey tail, braying at the judge. 

You get the picture.  I know it sounds silly, but it really works.  This brief imaginary moment immediately lifts my spirits, and I have found that I’m less likely to react negatively to her mocking.

Whatever you do, do not let mean-spirited people change your personality or change the respect you show for others.  Two wrongs do not make a right. 

Now that I’m all “growed up,” I make sure to treat younger lawyers with respect and courtesy, no matter what.  If dealing with “that lawyer” in your firm or as opposing counsel is getting you down, just know that someday the shoe will be on the other foot.  You will have to decide which type of lawyer you will be.  Choose the right kind.

     2.  Make a standing appointment to spend time for yourself and with your family, and do not let any other commitment interfere. And put down your phone.

     We’ve all heard this a million times.  “The law is a jealous mistress,” one older lawyer told me when I started practice.  And it’s absolutely true.  Meeting deadlines, making court appearances, and returning phone calls, among other things, eat up all our time.  And if you’re not careful, those obligations will take over your life.

I’m guilty of putting my clients ahead of myself and my family at times.  So I have to make a conscious effort not to let that happen.  One easy way to keep it all in check is to make appointments for yourself and your family, and put it on your calendar.  Treat it like any other obligation—once calendared, do not miss those appointments.  If you strategically plan your day, you should have time for everything.  But not planning ahead dooms you to failure.

When you do make the time to spend on yourself or with family and friends, make it count.  With the advent of cell phones, we are all attached to electronic leashes now.  Cut the cord.  Your spouse and your children, or friends, should have your undivided attention when you are with them.  Spending time looking at e-mails or texts when you’re supposed to be focusing on your friends and family may seem like no big deal now, but when you get all “growed up” like me, you’ll wish you had some of that time back.  So turn the phone off.  It can wait. 

I hope you all enjoy this edition of e-News.  It’s been a pleasure serving you.

Views and opinions expressed in eNews are those of their authors and not necessarily those of the Texas Young Lawyers Association or the State Bar of Texas.

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